NORWAY — Officials from Norway are heading to Virginia this week to check out a ladder truck they hope to purchase.

If the 2004 Pierce Dash, with a 100-foot-tall platform, passes inspection and the buyer and seller come to terms, a special town meeting will be held next Thursday, Dec. 17, to get approval to finance much of the $325,000 purchase.

Fire Chief Dennis Yates is heading to Manassas, Va., with several other department members to inspect the truck that local officials found through a broker.

The Board of Selectmen gave Yates the go-ahead last week to pursue the truck, which would be used for structure fires, chimney fires and other purposes.

Yates said that although nearby Oxford and Paris have ladder trucks and respond through a mutual aid agreement, there is no assurance either will be available in quick enough time in case of a catastrophic fire. Although manned during regular business hours Monday through Sunday, Paris is a paid, on call department at night, which could also be problematic for Norway if it needs a ladder truck, said Yates. The Oxford Fire Station is five miles away from the Norway town line.

The purchase would also prevent the town’s insurance rating from increasing by about 20 percent, which can happen if the department does not have a ladder truck. The insurance rating gives the property and business owners better insurance rates.

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The new truck has only 29,000 miles on it and is being sold because it became too big for the streets of the city that owned it when traffic increased over the last decade. The truck was also originally  purchased through a federal grant, which meant taxpayers did not pay for it.

If the purchase is approved, it will replace a 1980 fire truck that has become difficult to maneuver.

Yates said a new truck would cost the town more than $1 million, and a similar truck recently sold for almost $500,000. The purchase of this truck would be bought using $100,000 from the Fire Department Reserve Fund and the remainder, $220,000, to be financed.

Town Manager David Holt, who supports the purchase as long as the truck is sound, said the financing will give the town more flexibility and letting the townspeople vote on the purchase “is the right thing to do.”

If the purchase is approved this week, a special town meeting will take place on Thursday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the town office on Danforth Street.

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